The World Heritage Centre regularly monitors all the properties inscribed on the World Heritage List with a view to examining the state of conservation of the respective exceptional universal values that determined their inscription.
The Guidelines distinguish four procedures for monitoring the state of conservation and management of properties:
- Periodic Reports; these should be prepared every six years for each World Heritage property;
- Consultive Monitoring; in the case of dangerous circumstances, Advisory Bodies may check the situation prior to the decision of World Heritage Committee;
- Reactive Monitoring; it is applied to properties which may be affected by exceptional, dangerous, circumstances.
In the case Monitoring procedures ascertain serious and specific dangers, which may cause the loss or the significant deterioration of the property, the property itself can be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Every six years, State Parties to the Convention are requested to submit to the UNESCO General Conference through the World Heritage Committee, a report on the legislative and administrative provisions they have adopted and other actions which they have taken for the application of the Convention, including the state of conservation of the World Heritage properties located on their territories. This procedure was adopted for the first time towards the end of the 1990’s.
Periodic Reports provide an assessment ˗ even though a subjective one, being them written by managers of UNESCO properties ˗ as to whether the outstanding universal value of the properties inscribed on the World Heritage List is being maintained over time and updated information concerning any changes that may have occurred; they provide a mechanism for regional cooperation and exchange of information and experiences between State Parties.
Reports will be prepared by each State Party following the Format established by the World Heritage Centre (Guidelines annexe 7); said format is divided into two sections:
- section I refers to the legislative and administrative provisions which the State Party has adopted and other actions which it has taken for the application of the Convention, together with details of the experience acquired in this field;
- section II refers to the state of conservation of specific World Heritage properties located on the territory of the State Party concerned.
On the basis of national Reports, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies consult with the State Parties concerned to develop long term regional programmes in line with the strategies established by the World Heritage Committee to satisfy specific requirements of World Heritage properties in the respective geographical areas.
The Reactive Monitoring procedure is applied whenever exceptional circumstances occur that may affect the state of conservation of World Heritage properties. Reactive Monitoring is also applied in the case of properties inscribed, or to be inscribed, on the List of World Heritage in Danger and in the procedures for the eventual deletion of properties from the World Heritage List.
According to the information collected, the Committee may decide that the property is not seriously deteriorated and that no further measures need to be taken, or it may decide that it will be maintained on the List provided the State Party concerned takes the necessary measures within a reasonable period of time.
When there is evidence that the property has deteriorated to the point where it has irretrievably lost those values which determined its inscription, the Committee may decide to delete the property from the List; the State Party concerned will be informed before any such action is taken and the Committee will examine any comments or additional information submitted by the State Party.
In the case of just a danger warning, if the Advisory Bodies consider it is necessary to proceed quickly and carefully, a Consultive Monitoring can be activated; this means the State itself invites the Advisory Bodies for an evaluation mission. The technical report that arises from the mission will be helpful giving directions to face eventual danger situations.
List of World Heritage in Danger
Armed conflicts, warfare, earthquakes and other natural disasters, pollution, looting, unrestrained urbanisation and tourism may cause serious problems to World Heritage properties and even threaten the characteristics that determined its inscription. The danger may be “ascertained” when the property is faced with specific imminent danger or “potential” when it is faced with circumstances which may have negative effects on its World Heritage value.
In accordance with the 1972 Convention, the Committee may inscribe on the List of World Heritage in Danger, properties whose conservation requires major operations. A property’s inscription on this List sensitizes the international community and allows conservation specialists to face specific problems with effectiveness. Indeed, the mere possibility of inscribing a property on this List is often sufficient to stimulate conservation measures.
When a property is inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, the Committee develops and adopts, in cooperation with the State Party concerned, a programme for corrective measures and subsequently monitors the property’s condition. The Committee may also decide to send a mission of qualified observers from the relevant Advisory Bodies or other organizations to visit the property, evaluate the nature and extent of the threats and propose the measures to be taken to restore the property’s values so that it may be deleted form the List as soon as possible.
If a property has deteriorated to the extent that it has lost those characteristics, which determined its inscription on the World Heritage List, the Committee may decide to delete it from both the List of World Heritage in Danger and the World Heritage List.